Please join us for a fascinating and timely lecture on Science Denialism in America with Dr.Michael Stamatikos, Assistant Professor at OhioStateNewark. This lecture is hosted by the American Chemical Society and streamed online by Science on Google+. Feel free to post your questions on the event post. See below for more details.
Link to event: http://columbus.sites.acs.org/meetingnotice.htm
Title: A Modern Reprise of the Dark Ages? The Socioeconomic and Geopolitical Consequences of Science Denialism in America
Dr. Michael Stamatikos
Department of Physics, Department of Astronomy &
Center for Cosmology & AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP)
The Ohio State University (OSU) at Newark
Abstract: We live in an Information Age that is defined by ever increasing computational benchmarks, which further enable discoveries in traditional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. However, average cell phones with more computing power than all of NASA circa 1969 are bluntly juxtaposed with a rapidly eroding national capacity for accepting unbiased scientific results. Why is the first nation to reach the Moon scientifically regressing towards the Dark Ages? Although there are several contributing factors, Science Denialism is playing a major role in this disturbing national trend. Science Denialism is the irrational denial of otherwise conclusive scientific evidence, solely based upon a perceived conflict with antecedent political, economic and/or religious worldviews, which results in a selective distortion of scientific understanding. The conflation of skepticism with denialism leads to ambiguous inferences regarding the nature of consensus amongst scientists and provides a historical context for the apparent verisimilitude of pseudoscience, which some have attempted to include into academic curricula. In that regard, I’ll give an astrophysicists’ perspective on common topics such as: evolution, climate change, intelligent design and young Earth creationism, which are periodically the subjects of high-profile public “debates”. This national regression is further exacerbated by a STEM educational crisis and rampant scientific illiteracy/innumeracy amongst the electorate and its appointed government officials, which systematically obstructs our ability to formulate and implement evidence-based policies with bipartisan support. The resulting political dissonance resonates in cyber echo chambers and is further amplified in an era of the 24-hour cable news cycle – especially in a presidential election year. But what is science? How is it done? How do we “know” things? Why is it important? How can we combat this internal threat? Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. As practitioners of science, we need to help each other understand on all levels, which means enhancing the quality and content of information when communicating our results, their implications and the scientific process, via education and public outreach. Science is not an absolute collection of facts to be memorized, but rather it can be thought of as the art of asking the right question(s) – this distinction is paramount. The scientific method allows for a statistical analysis of different models, whose selective predictions are confronted with independent observations, thus allowing for an evolving empirical understanding of Nature. Critical thinking and analytical reasoning are ubiquitous problem solving skills that are also crucial characteristics of an educated citizenry, which is essential to a thriving democracy and national security. Most importantly, we’ll need to collaborate with science advocates embedded within the insular communities that harbor each particular strand of Science Denialism. If left unchecked, Science Denialism threatens to cripple our long term national economy, short-change future generations of crucial self-investments in our education system and impede our ability to compete as a world leader in STEM research.